REVIEW: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Underworld Evolution (2006): D-

This werewolf/vampire slayer, who also happens to be a vampire, teams up with a half werewolf half vampire dude to battle a gargoyle-vampire elder who is trying to free his werewolf twin brother from a thousand year old casket located in a Romanian cave maze so they can take over the world and turn it into a werewolf-vampire-gargoyle utopia which would probably be a dystopia if you aren’t a werewolf/vampire/gargoyle/werewolf-vampire-gargoyle.

The plot is such a fucking mess. You could watch it on mute and blast some 1990’s techno music and you’d probably understand the movie better than I did. There’s that convoluted vampire/werewolf business and then a bunch of medieval looking dudes who look like the Lord of the Rings elves with their ponytails dyed black. And fucking EVERYONE knows karate. It’s like they used a computer program to write the story, but before pushing “GENERATE,” they dumped a bucket of ice water on the motherboard and sparks started flying everywhere; “bzzz… beepbeep…blip bzzzzzVAMPIRE… bzzzWEREWOLF… bzzzLEATHER… bzzzzzSLOWMOTION… bzzzzzzGARGOYLEWORLDDOMINATION…” and, there it is: Underworld Evolution.

The action in the movie was unbelievable… ly played out Matrixesque unoriginality. It was impossible to take seriously for even a single second. This one dude pulls a rope attached to a helicopter and makes it crash to the ground. The color of the movie was a cold gray the WHOLE time and there are so many contorted CGI attack scenes that rival Transformers 3 that you could base a drinking game on them. You would think with pretty consistent attention-deficit-disorder-levels of editing, the movie would be at least occasionally entertaining but you would be wrong. After the tone is set in the first 15 minutes, you’ll be desensitized to the rest of the film; the whole movie is basically a looping 15 minute action sequence bookended by overacted conversation that is based on some clusterfuck exposition. Unless you have the memory of a fish, you will be unmoved.

REVIEW: Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)

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Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005): C-

More like “Do You Like Made-for-TV-Bullshit?”

When a myopic Italian film student named Julio realizes his life is a Hitchcock movie, paranoia and delirium take him over and he becomes obsessed with figuring out what the hell is happening to him. What was he obsessed with before all this? Hitchcock movies! Man, what a mess.

It hurts me to talk shit about Argento. I feel pain while doing it. That’s how much I love this guy. This movie comes from a period in Argento’s career that I refer to as “The Stretch of Time in Which Argento Made Garbage Movies.” None of his trademarks are in this movie except really overt vocal dubbing and a crop of breasts. There is minimal gore. No one crashes through a window. No one with black leather gloves runs around molesting people. It looks like an after school special about not doing drugs where you can just tell all the actors are virgins.

This stretch of bad Argento movies fucking depress me. Imagine your favorite musician spends a decade not playing music. Instead, he just practices getting really good at using those gloves with light-up fingertips to make trippy light patterns that only look cool if you are 16 and at a rave. Makes me sick.

The movie has virtually no signature Argento. But you know what this movie does have? A fucking stupid moped/car chase. Probably the worst one I have ever seen. As far as moped/car chases go, it gets an F.

The movie is a formulaic homage factory. It felt like Argento had a checklist of Hitchcock’s films and he was just powering through them, making all the references he could, just wiggling his fingers in those stupid fucking light-up gloves. I dare you to watch this with your pretentious friend who considers himself a film buff. He will let out so many obligatory giggles to show you how he’s getting all the references.

I will admit there is a dimension of suspense that transcends the straight-to-DVD feel of the film. I somehow hated the characters but still wanted to know what was going to happen next. Maybe this was because I was naively optimistic, but maybe it was because parts of the movie were better than abysmal. I’m the wrong person to ask.

I think they should make a sequel called Do You Like Michael Bay? in which the protagonist believes they are living out the plot of a Michael Bay movie. Truly terrifying.

REVIEW: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

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Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962): A

I have to apologize for yesterday’s review of “Mommie Dearest”. Apparently there WAS a real Joan Crawford and she was in the movies and she really DID like to make her children eat raw steak.

And also, she’s in this movie.

In a twist, she’s the one getting psychologically and physically abused. The abuser is her sister who doesn’t like her because she’s crippled and used to be more famous.

One thing I like is the way this movie handles the cripple. It’s hard to do cripples right because the line between pathetic and funny is just gossamer thin. This movie goes the pathetic route and….nails it! Joan Crawford played a scared, abused, helpless person really well. Maybe she was using her daughter for inspiration, I don’t know. But it works.

The sister is played by Bette Davis from the classic late 80’s nighttime soap opera “Arthur Hailey’s Hotel”. But apparently she was famous for other things before that and one of those is this movie and another is some fetish movie from way back in the 30’s.

Anyway, the sister is a fucked up child star from the 10’s who used to be known as “Baby Jane Hudson”. She had a creepy singing act with her father. They also made dolls that were exact replicas of her 8-year old body and sold them to people who liked to have them. She tried to make the switch to movie stardom in the 30’s, but she hella sucked. Meanwhile, Joan Crawford, who was the ugly duckling sister when Baby Jane was a star, made it as a respected actress.

But then Joan Crawford gets crippled, and Baby Jane has to take care of her and as the movie opens they’ve been shut-ins for the last thirty years.

They have a nice house and are still rich. They’re still so rich, Baby Jane gets liquor delivered to the door! Then she falls in love with this fat British piano player and starts to plan a comeback and gets meaner to Joan Crawford, who can’t do jack because of the crippling.

Bette Davis is way nuts in this movie and is scary as hell. She wears children’s clothes and dances around and plays with dolls of herself. Baby Jane also serves dead animals to Joan Crawford, who apparently had given up meat because this upsets her.

So there’s lots of tension and well-done suspense but the movie ends with Baby Jane’s dream of being watched by a crowd again coming true, even though she’s just spinning around on the beach with an ice cream cone in each hand.

And Joan Crawford gets a long rest. The final shot is really touching.

REVIEW: Punpkinhead 3: Ashes to Ashes (2006)

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Punpkinhead 3: Ashes to Ashes (2006): C+

Hendrickson was cool enough to do Pumpkinhead 1, then he was too big to do Pumpkinhead 2, then he got washed up enough to do Pumpkinhead 3, which happens to be a SCI-fi original series, which usually means automatic shitfest. PHATA wasn’t that bad, relatively speaking; PH2: “Bloodwings” was so goddamn dumb that I treat it like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Turtles in Time and pretend that it never happened.

This film is more like the first film in that there is a small town and a “deal with the devil” setup that summons Pumpkinhead to get his vengeance-based killing spree on.  Just like before, when the townsfolk start to realize what they’ve gotten themselves into, ol’ Pumpkinhead is well into his massacre and they see that they can’t do anything about it except hope that he doesn’t give them a back-breaker.

They actually get a dude dressed up in an elaborate costume to slaughter people instead of rendering a CGI PH for the whole movie, which was good. The CGI parts look CGUgly. Which was bad. Like “how did they have the audacity to show us that?” bad. There is this one scene where he’s climbing up the side of a church and it looks like a Windows ’95 screensaver.

The make-up was really good for a made-for-TV flick like this and the gore was unrelenting and surprisingly graphic. You’d have fun watching it with people. He’s called “Pumpkinhead,” why? His head doesn’t look like a pumpkin. If anything, it looks like the head of a rancor with a little extra skull space. In PHATA, they make him smile a lot like he is really into all the slaughter. So, a happy rancor.

REVIEW: Mommie Dearest (1981)

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Mommie Dearest (1981): Capital A

There’s something to say for balancing pairs like horror and comedy or disturbing and sexy. And this movie strikes just the right balance because the violence is mostly psychological and ALL of it is directed at children. Which this movie proves CAN be funny when done right.

The main character is this woman named Joan Crawford. She is played by Faye Dunaway, who you might remember from Supergirl and Halle Berry’s Catwoman movie. Anyway, it’s a fictionalized version of 40’s Hollywood, and Joan Crawford is a big star. This movie really conveys the time period well because they talk about other stars and movies that I KNOW really did exist. Another nice touch is when Joan Crawford wins an Oscar, they actually mention the real films and actresses who were nominated the year in which this is supposed to be.

She’s got hella problems, though. One of my favorite scenes of her crazy is in the beginning. Joan Crawford is yelling at her maid to clean the dirt off the floor better than the way the maid is doing it. Then she just pushes the maid out of the way and gets down on her knees and starts vigorously scrubbing while yelling “I’M NOT MAD AT YOU, I’M MAD AT THE DIRT!!!”. This scene is really disturbing, but also kind of a turn on-which speaks of the deft direction of whoever directed it.

Then she adopts some kids. Just about the age they can talk, she starts psychologically torturing them. She also makes them eat raw steak because cooked steak loses all its vitamins.

And then her career gets worse, so she marries this rich, fat guy and makes him spend all his money.

She also somehow takes over Pepsi-Cola by just being a bitch to some guys who run it.

It all comes to a head when she tries to strangle her adopted daughter after the daughter gets kicked out of her private school for banging some dude in the barn. Because Joan Crawford’s embarrassed.

After she dies, the daughter decides to write a book about Joan Crawford called “Mommie Dearest” and the movie is supposed to be like, all the stuff she’s going to put in the book. So it’s very Meta, and scary as well, and none of the acting is in any way over the top.

And it’s educational. I learned that steak thing. It works with bacon too.

REVIEW: 976-EVIL (1988)

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976-EVIL (1988): D

You would think that since 976 numbers were those nasty phone sex lines from the 80’s that they would advertise for on all the channels no one watched at like 3am, that this movie would have some sort of sexual connotation to it. But it doesn’t. There’s what looks like a demonic woman on the cover art. I remember seeing this VHS at the store a few times before I finally rented it and thinking to myself “I bet she comes through the phone and rips someone’s ballsack off!” or “I bet when you call the number and start whackin’ it, and you hear her voice, she possess you!”

I NEVER CALLED ANY OF THOSE NUMBERS. But I had a friend who did.

Here’s how it actually works: If you call the number, Satan talks to you. He starts turning you into a demon and urges you to commit sins. You get demonic powers which you can wield once you hang up the phone, but the more you do it, the more your soul is surrendered to Hell and the more you unleash evil shit into our world. The only way to recharge your powers is to call and have phone sex with Satan, which is actually a lot like those 976 numbers because you get addicted to them and have to keep calling to feel like a complete human being ACCORDING TO MY FRIEND, ANYWAY; I WOULDN’T KNOW BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER CALLED A NUMBER LIKE THAT.

At first, it seems badass because you have magic powers, but then you realize that your soul is gone and when you look in the mirror, you see the misleading cover art for 976-EVIL. It’s probably hard to look at yourself in the mirror after calling one of those 976 numbers in real life, OR SO I WOULD IMAGINE.

An abused nerd gets addicted to 976-EVIL and he starts getting revenge on the bullies who picked on him. There is death by claws, death by spiders, and someone’s face is ripped off. The makeup isn’t bad, actually. There is a scene where a room gets possessed just like in Evil Dead 2. There’s even a deer on the wall that comes to life.

The movie is nothing special. There aren’t very many “976” scenes, which were the best part; most of the movie involved ineffectively building suspense between each kill. I didn’t really feel attached to the characters, the premise was fucking stupid. 976 numbers aren’t scary. If they were, WHY WOULD MY FRIEND HAVE CALLED THEM SEVERAL TIMES WHEN HE WAS REALLY LONELY LATE AT NIGHT AND JUST NEEDED SOMEONE TO TALK TO WHO WOULDN’T JUDGE HIM? We may never learn the answer to this riddle just like we may never learn how someone thought up the idea for this fairly atrocious movie.

 

REVIEW: Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1974)

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Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1974): UV

Oh, wow! The title is awesome! What could go wrong with this movie? I’ll tell you exactly what could go wrong and it is going to be too fucking easy to do so.

First of all: There’s no Blood Orgy. The movie is rated PG, something I noticed on the VHS sleeve after viewing the film. The entire thing is just some idiots in a haunted house in California where a sorceress threatens over and over to sacrifice them and she does some voodoo to some guy who looks like Joe Spinell’s clone. Does she subject them to a depraved blood orgy? Nope. Well, how about a regular orgy? No. How about anything sexual at all? No, sir. Not even so much as a kiss. Instead, people get endlessly threatened and the audience drowns in who-gives-a-fuck exposition about ancient witchcraft lore that sounds like it was written by a ten year-old who just learned the word “orgy”. Some professor says the words “The Blood Orgy of the She-Devils” and that’s about as close as you get. The next time you feel disappointed in a movie, just remember some asshole made Blood Orgy of the She-Devils and there isn’t any blood, orgies, or blood orgies in this PG-rated garbage.

Next, let’s talk about the She-Devils. Again, the title and grindhouse cover art would lead one to believe that the She-Devils would be at least mildly sexual and perhaps provide, at the very least, some brief ocular relief from this dumpster fire of a film. Wrong. They don’t do shit. They stare at people and vanish anti-climatically to cheesy Bewitched style blips and sparkles while what looks like a dozen flashlight beams zig-zag on the wall. They are barely in the goddamn move at all and when they are, you barely notice. Their big scene is one where they sit on the floor and chant together while one She-Devil dances. Maybe this is the blood orgy? I dunno.

The kills are pathetic. We get: a CGI burning at the cross, a weak as FUCK strangulation scene, and some other kills that will make you wish you would soil yourself so you could have an excuse to get off the sofa.

There is sub-Dolomite production quality and acting. The only thing this movie would be good for is melting several copies down, forming the plastic into a hammer and then using the hammer to break every remaining copy on Earth.

REVIEW: Stitches (2012)

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Stitches (2012): B+

This is why I watch bundles of horror movies, to find diamonds in the rough that surprise with a good story, good gore and and at least average acting.

Stitches is an overweight alcoholic clown that despises children and lives in a trailer on the outskirts of Ireland. At Tommy’s 11th birthday party Stitches is being tormented by a group of snotty children who eventually end up killing him when they tie his shoelaces together and he face plants onto a knife. Later that evening Tommy is spying on the graveyard with his telescope and he sees a group of clowns laying stitches to rest. It is here where we learn the great secret: no clown can rest peacefully if he does not finish a party! Flash forward 6 years and Tommy and the rest of the brats are in high school getting ready for a party at Tommy’s house. It is here where Stitches gets his revenge as he hunts down the kids who tormented him one by one.

This movie has everything you could ask for in a low budget horror film. The killer’s motivation makes sense and is not too far fetched. The victims are at a centralized location and there is an abundance of fresh meat. The kills are violent, evenly spaced, and unique. Examples include a guy getting his head soccer kicked off, and a kid getting his brains scooped out with an ice cream scooper. Most importantly however, the movie had a good pace. Most low budget horror films have way too much filler and down time. Stitches kept moving and kept the viewer engrossed throughout the film.

Recommended if your looking for a really good, unique horror film.